Tranquilo Bay is a little piece of paradise, nestled on Bastimentos Island in the Bocos del Toro archipelago of Panama. Bordering a National Marine Park, this eco-adventure lodge offers its guests a rainforest retreat amongst its reefs and lagoons, and with facilities spread over its 110 acres and 3 ecosystems, there is no shortage of opportunity for visitors to experience the biodiversity of the island.
Any entrepreneur can attest to the dedication required to launch and grow their business. Consider, however, beginning your business in a country other than your own. Local residents speak a foreign language and have a different relationship with concepts of time and labour. Logistical obstacles that would be a molehill at home prove to be mountains in this new environment. Your new neighbours – the alligators, boa constrictors and spiders – have no qualms infringing on your space. Finally, imagine that you are separated from your business partner and spouse for four years while you build your business. This was the reality for Renée and Jim Kimball, co-owners and operators of Tranquilo Bay. While Jim set about building Tranquilo Bay from the ground up with partner, Jay Viola, Renée remained in Texas working to fund the project. She joined them in 2004, the year the resort opened its doors to its first customers. For the Kimballs and their children, Tranquilo Bay has become more than a business: it is their home and way of life. They took some time to reflect and share their story with us.
Renée Kimball: We met in college. Jim sold me early on in our relationship that doing something “different” was the way to go with our lives together. We formulated a plan early about the kind of business we would like to have someday. We met Jay and all three of us began working toward that business. However, honestly we thought we would be separated one and a half maybe two years – it turned out to be almost four. I don’t think we would have signed on for being separated for that long, but once we were committed to the project we couldn’t stop.
Jim Kimball: We had years to make that decision and we were committed from the early start, it was a way of life for us. Everything was a sacrifice, it was a 10 year plan and we stuck to it religiously. So 8 years later, when the time finally came to jump, I wasn’t looking back. We had so much heart and soul invested I think I would have taken on just about anything. However, four years was REALLY HARSH! (lacks emphasis) Not in our wildest dreams had we imagined that it would take that long. Had we known, I might have said yes, but she would have definitely said, “are you crazy”. Anyhow, now that’s over and it has made us stronger.